A resource for newsrooms: Measuring the success of audience engagement efforts

September 14, 2011 in Community, Craft, Resources, Revenue

Journalists have a lot to learn from other disciplines about tracking what works. We’re not used to gauging our success in ways more sophisticated than ratings or circulation numbers, and we’re behind the measurement curve. But these days, it’s hard to value what you can’t measure. And as newsrooms grapple with how to make room in tight budgets for audience engagement, it’s natural that they’d also wonder what the return on that investment might be.

With these issues in mind, a group of journalists invested in audience engagement gathered in early May at the Reynolds Journalism Institute to talk specifically about measurement (http://www.rjionline.org/events/engagement-metric). Some of them were widely recognized experts. All were working to effect change in their traditional newsrooms or products. They came because they believe that as news organizations fight for survival, a more connected relationship with their communities should be valued, and therefore measured. They were joined by smart folks from other disciplines who shared their time to help guide the discussions and share their expertise.

Our multi-disciplinary group (see bios of some of the folks involved) focused our conversations around specific strategies for audience engagement, what their value is to the news organizations, and how the success of the efforts can be evaluated. We spent a day filling out a google spreadsheet together, and what you’ll find here is an edited version of that document. It’s not intended as a comprehensive guide to engagement, but instead as a sampling of practical ways to be strategic in our efforts.” Source: Reynolds Journalism Institute

2 responses to A resource for newsrooms: Measuring the success of audience engagement efforts

  1. Thanks, Lisa! I’m so inspired by what Breeze is doing. She’s putting her money where all our mouths are by getting specific about what’s measurable, and then by sharing information a lot of newsrooms aren’t willing to share.

    I fervently hope other newsrooms will pick up this gauntlet she’s thrown and help us all learn about different markets and what success can concretely look like.

  2. Wow! It’s exciting to see Chicago Public Media’s (@WBEZ) Breeze Richardson SO inspired by Joy Mayer’s RJI Engagement Metric event this past spring (2010) she’s created a new Chicago case study. http://www.rjionline.org/blog/measuring-community-engagement-case-study-chicago-public-media

    Breeze shares the work has a “goal to demonstrate how engagement impacts civic health and increases the local significance of the station as a community institution: In the report that resulted from the Engagement Metric conference, it was eloquently put: ‘… as news organizations fight for survival, a more connected relationship with communities should be valued, and therefore measured.’ At Chicago Public Media, I have identified five areas of measurement [of community engagement]…in short they encompass:

    Station partnerships and collaborations,
    Audience commenting online,
    Audience participation in content creation,
    Audience recommending content online, and
    The production of station events…”

    Check it out.

    Joy — what will you inspire next?

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